President Snow Back at it Again!
By Taylor Mascetta
I’m not exaggerating when I say this—the acclaimed “Hunger Games” trilogy, despite being about the oppressive nature of a tyrannical government and kids killing each other in a sadistic televised tournament—absolutely defined my middle school years. When I say I was obsessed, I was obsessed. I read the first two books hundreds of times. (We don’t talk about “Mockingjay.” It did not happen . . . still emotionally scarred.) I invented backstories for every single tribute in the 74th Games through at least six poorly written Quotev fanfics. I pledged to ship Cato and Clove until the day I die and entered a state of depression when I discovered their love story was completely erased from the movies (still salty). Katniss Everdeen was my hero and I am in love with Finnick Odair to this day. I clearly remember that, at an eighth-grade pool party, my friends and I played Categories and my first question was: “Who’s your favorite movie character?” I leaped into the pool and screamed “Clove!” and everyone judged me for liking the knife girl. That illustrates the severity of my obsession.
Nevertheless, my long-buried “Hunger Games” phase came roaring back recently. Last June, Scholastic revealed that Suzanne Collins, the Lord and Savior of the Young Adult genre, had written a prequel taking place sixty-four years before Katniss’ Hunger Games. The book, titled “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” would describe a period ten years after the revolutionary Dark Days. “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins said of the book in a statement to Entertainment Weekly.
For nearly a year, fans theorized which character would serve as the focus of the novel; most of them rooted for Mags, the beloved victor from District 4. I personally hoped Haymitch Abernathy would get his time in the spotlight. Anyway, we got our answer on January 21, 2020, and our new protagonist will be… President Snow, the ruthless dictator of the feared Capitol and Katniss’ worst enemy. “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” will follow his journey as he serves as a mentor for the female District 12 tribute in the tenth Hunger Games, so he could procure a scholarship for college after her victory. Needless to say, the release faced a fair share of controversy, and fans were pissed. No one wanted to see a redemption story for the long-hated villain, and fans feared yet another tale of humanizing a fascist dictator. Everyone naturally flooded Twitter with complaints, calling out Collins and listing a variety of characters the sequel could be about instead.
I’m going to be completely honest; my biggest fear pertaining to “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” remains the inevitable swarm of fangirls thirsting after a young Snow. Considering the book releases in May 2020, the immediate backlash feels ridiculous; we haven’t even read the book yet! No one will share the same opinion, and I’m pretty sure a majority fandom would’ve preferred someone else. But I appreciate that this was an unexpected twist. Snow’s backstory seems… interesting? We don’t know much about him, and I’ve always wondered how he became the dastardly villain he is in Katniss’ story. I also don’t think Collins will craft this story as a full-on redemption; it will improve upon his character in the original trilogy, and give him a sense of established motivation. We know how his story ends, after all.
Anyway, we’re going to inevitably grow attached to some of these characters, and watch them die horrible deaths. May the odds be ever in our favor.